Month: December 2014
Over the past 300 years or so humankind has developed a system for producing, distributing and exchanging goods and services, which has been based on human ingenuity in the design and development of tools and systems, alongside the extraction and exploitation of natural resources built up over millions of years, in particular sources of energy.
Overall this has massively increased human productivity, led to big increases in material income and wealth and resulted in huge improvements in health, wellbeing and life satisfaction to which many have become accustomed, although the distribution of these benefits has been very uneven and there is still huge unmet demand to match the lifestyles of the most prosperous.
This development has led to natural resources being used up much faster than they are being replaced at the same time as waste products alter the complex natural systems which forms the habitat on which humans and many other species rely.
Therefore options need to be explored which can help maintain and renew the environment on which we rely by reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources, reducing the production of harmful waste and using waste products as substitutes for non-renewable resources. If we don’t the survival of our species, or a large part of it, along with many others is likely to be at serious risk over a relatively short period.
Despite the magnitude of the problem and while it is a relatively short period in terms of human history, let alone that of the planet, it still appears very long term when compared to the myriad urgent priorities that crowd in on us as we try and navigate our way through life and the rate at which we discount the future is in practice much higher than it might be in theory.
To develop and decide on the most feasible longer term options and balance them against shorter term priorities will require widespread collaboration, this in turn will have to be built on rapport and respect and a clear and deep understanding of the many different issues, risks, probabilities, interests, objectives, needs and concerns.
In some cases the choices we make will involve trade offs between competing interests and priorities but there are also likely to be many areas where synergies can be exploited in the achievement of varied goals. This search for positive-sum games will require no let up in the ingenuity we have employed over the last 300 years.